November 14, 2016

Tip of the Week
How to Develop a Quicker Forehand.

Youngest Table Tennis Players
Here's a picture of Shia Williams, age 5, playing his first tournament. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) He's playing in the Robopong October 2016 Broward TTC Open. Here's the video (2 min)!

He achieved a rating of 994 – not bad! Anyway, this raises the question of who was the youngest player ever to play a USATT tournament. I'm sure if I had access to the entire database and the proper data tools, I could figure this out. But I already know the answer – sort of.

The youngest to enter a USATT tournament and get a rating was three-year-old Don Iguana back in the 1990s. He entered Under 12 singles, and got a rating of 25, losing every game 21-0 except for one historic time when it was 21-1. (Games were to 21 back then.) But note I said he entered and got a rating, but didn't say he actually played? Don Iguana was my three-year-old pet iguana. I bought him a USATT junior membership and entered him in three tournaments I ran. The kids went along with it, and would take the clipboard for about five minutes, then return it with scores filled out - Don always lost. Poor kid. (No, Don never actually went to the table to play.) Look him up – USATT # 65421! However, our online database only goes back to 1994, and he played his tournaments I think in 1992, so his actual results back then are lost to the mists of history. (They brought in everyone's current rating when they went online in 1994.)

I'm told Don had a unique strategy when he played. He'd stand there, staring at his opponent, refusing to even attempt make a return, but just waiting, waiting, waiting until his opponent missed a serve. And his strategy and persistency paid off, as he finally scored his first point, against an 11-year-old Michael Squires, who according to the scoreboard defeated the lizard, 21-0, 21-1, apparently missing a serve in game two in this historic match.

When the USATT Ratings Director found out about Don, he was furious, saying it make a mockery of the ratings, and was very unhappy that a player had gained a rating point in a match that didn't take place. He took Don out of the ratings. A few years later his successor, who didn't have a reptilian bias, put him back in. (For several years, Alan and Dave Williams used to write great online tales of Don's feats as he traveled the globe, often as a pirate. Alas, I think those postings were also lost to the mists history.)

Here's the stunner. According to the USATT listing, Don is listed as playing a tournament at the Triangle TTC in North Carolina . . . in 2014!!! He "lost" all four of his matches, but scored a lot of points, and even won his first game! Yes, he lost at 8,-9,8,10 to Jerred Miklowcic, the first time in history that a lizard won a game from a human. Apparently Don, now about 27 years old (and 25 in 2014) has been practice and getting better. (Someone in NC had a sense of humor – I suspect Mike Babuin.)

This might be a shot of Don in action. But the lizard has gone on to bigger and better things. He's apparently the mayor of something, an actor (here's video), and seems to be active on Facebook.

(Going back to Shia at the beginning, there's something wrong with the ratings algorithm here. He played players rated 1323, 1159, and 1005, and lost all three 3-0 without scoring more than 3 points in a game. How does an unrated player lose to a 1005 player at 2,3,1, and come out rated 994? I've already emailed the question to the powers that be. Something seems out of whack with the algorithm for initial ratings. The system apparently no longer takes scores into consideration, but losing 0-3 to the 1005 should make you come out lower than 994, which is only 11 points lower. But you know something? 994 or not, Shia looked pretty good in the video!)

Expectation: A Danger for Athletes in Table Tennis
Here's the new coaching article from Matt Hetherington.

Ten Things That Require Zero Talent
Here's the list

Review of Table Tennis University
Here's the article by Tom Lodziak.

East Coast National Youth Reflect on Outstanding Results Overseas
Here's the article by Matt Hetherington.

10 Christmas Gift Ideas for a Table Tennis Player
Here's the article from Expert Table Tennis. Or you can buy them one of these!!!

Coffee Cup: "Table Tennis Coach: To Save Time, Just Assume I'm Always Right"
I want one! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) And if you're a coach, so should you. (And I don't even drink coffee.) Here's where you can buy one, and about twenty other table tennis mugs – though you have to order from England. (ADDENDUM: While they can ship to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and numerous other places, they don't appear to be able to ship to the U.S. - it doesn't appear on their dropdown menu when filling out address. I tried ordering one but wasn't able to.) 

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 8! Or order your own print copies at

Table Tennis "Mannequin" Challenge
Here's the video (21 sec). But here's an even better one (2:13), from four years ago by Richard Heo, before the "Mannequin" challenge had come out. And that's me at 1:28 making an appearance as a fist-pumping, screaming coach at the barriers!

Table Tennis, the Beautiful Game - Part 2
Here's the video (4:27). (Here's Part 1, from March, 2013.)

Music to Jam With When Playing?
Here's the video (23 sec) of animated table tennis set to music.

Fairy Child Pong?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.)

Paddle Boulevard?
Here's the picture! (Here's the non-Facebook version.) Note that the "balls" are the normal lamps.

Swing Softly But Carry a Big Stick
Here's the video (42 sec) of Samson Dubina warming up with super-big paddle.

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